Button quail hens? when should they start laying?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by kellycereal, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. kellycereal

    kellycereal New Egg

    Dec 16, 2016
    Hi all :)

    My quail are just under 3 months old. I have 4 females, 1 male. I got button quail for their cuteness factor, colour and eggs. (silvers and ivory)
    I fell in love with Japanese quail eggs, but didn't have the space for a bigger run for them. It is summer here, and daylight savings so the sun doesn't set till about 9pm.

    (i recently moved them back onto the lawn so they're happily scratching and digging around)

    My questions are:

    When do they start laying?
    How can I make sure that they are eating their oyster shell? I had bought them some grit from the pet store but they don't seem to like eating it. I thought maybe it was too big, but they're about the same size as their crumble.
    Also, do many people eat Button quail eggs?
    I want to give them insects to eat to increase their protein intake etc, but read that at this age they can't eat dried mealworms is this a thing?

    Thanks :)

    - Kelly.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  2. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2015
    They'll start lying as early as around 8 weeks, if conditions are right. The right conditions include 12+(some say 14, but personally I find that mine keep laying with 12) hours of light a day, 20+ % protein feed and an environment free of stress. You mentioned moving them recently - if that was within the last 2 weeks, that could be the sole reason they are not laying. Moving causes stress and it takes a while for them to settle down and start laying afterwards. If you intend to move the cage around on the lawn rather than cleaning it, that could cause continual stress - they might actually never start laying, unless they get used to it (I've never tried it, so I don't know if they would).
    As I understand, the birds are directly on the lawn - beware of predators when you keep them like that. Buttons are a great snack to most.
    With regards to oyster shell, if the size is okay they should eat it when they need it. But an okay size might be smaller than you think - I use a blender to grind mine and this turns the majority into powder. Powder is not strictly necessary, but the blender doesn't listen when I tell it just to grind it all to 1-2 mm.
    I do occasionally eat the eggs from my buttons, but I keep them for cuteness and natural breeding - I eat the eggs to avoid having to throw them out when the buttons don't go broody. And they really are tiny. It takes a lot of eggs to get a meal.
    With regards to meal worms, yes, I've heard that they can't digest the shell unless the worm recently changed the shell. Live worms that changed the shell will be lighter in color. Don't know about the dried ones, but if you grind them to a powder I don't think the shell can prevent the birds from benefiting. It shouldn't be necessary though, as long as they get a feed with more than 20% protein - gamebird or turkey starters is usually the way to go.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by